Promotional image for the HBO series “Lovecraft Country”
Every once in a while, I visit Mike Glyer’s File 770 SciFi fanzine. I used to follow them and get email updates of new posts, but either due to an accidental technical glitch or me being deliberately booted off for being an “undesirable,” those notices stopped.
Published in 2001, all of the advice about how to publish, market, and, of course, win awards (Card won two Hugos, a Nebula, a Lotus, and in 1978, the John W. Campbell [now renamed Astounding] Award for Best New Writer) are outdated and useless.
But his lessons on how to write remain pretty much timeless, especially when you are actually learning the craft rather than trying to promote a social position, attitude, or bias (I say that knowing that all stories contain the biases of their authors, but lately, it’s gotten so much more obvious and even blatant).
Interestingly enough, the article I found as a pingback to Updexnews.com used the phrase “racist history” as part of the link when referring to my Silverberg article, and I hadn’t intended to call Silverberg a racist (really, I’m shocked I haven’t gotten even a single piece of hate mail yet).
On this twitter account, I found the following image posted prominently. It was the first indication I had of yet another WorldCon social purging by the righteous (yes, I’m being snarky…I’ll explain below).
I’ve been thinking a lot about villains lately. Actually, this particular File 770 “Pixel Scroll” first brought the topic up in my mind. If you scroll down to item #4 “AUTUMN LEAVES” and to “Watchmen” just below that, you can read:
Oct. 20, 9 p.m., HBO
Confession: I know nothing about Watchmen. Never read the comic or saw the (polarizing) 2009 film. I had to pause many times while watching the pilot so I could look up characters and backstories on Wikipedia. With that said, I can’t wait to see more. Set 30 years after the comics, Watchmen takes place in a world where police hide their identities due to terrorist attacks and a long-dormant white supremacist group wants to start a race war. The show is expensive-looking but not hollow. There’s a humanity to the characters that is often lacking in comic book adaptations, due in large part to the exceptional cast, including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. Hardcore fans will have to make up their own minds, but this novice is intrigued. [emph. mine]
I know I wrote a blog post sometime ago about adult-oriented comic books and how they are now themed to emphasize social justice, but I can’t find it again. I do remember that, thanks to Donald Trump, most, if not all of the villains are straight white men, and specifically alt-right white supremacists.
No, I’m not defending racism, white supremacy, bigotry, or anything like that. My wife and children are Jewish, so I specifically take a dim view of antisemitism as well as other forms of prejudice and bigotry. Yes, some of my political views are unpopular to certain demographics but I don’t advocate for hate.
There are now over 200 comments on Mike Glyer’s commentary on Ng and Campbell, and of course, they all damn Campbell, some even comparing him (more or less) to Mussolini. Further, one person said that anyone with even the tiniest hint of actually liking anything Campbell ever did is considered a fascist sympathizer. Really. I had heard of Campbell, but before this, I never had any idea about his political beliefs.
However, even according to Wikipedia, while he may or may not have been a fascist, he certainly was a racist.
His opinions go far beyond the occasional “joke in bad taste,” and many well known authors, including Michael Moorcock and Isaac Asimov, lambasted Campbell for his even then unpopular and heinous ideas.
Author Jeannette Ng – image found at the Angry Robot website
Here we go again. British fantasy writer Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon recently, the 47th winner. Of course, she accepted the award, and then began to rip the late John W. Campbell apart, calling him, among other things, a fascist. An edited copy of her acceptance speech is hosted at Medium.com with the profanity removed.
I looked up Campbell, not knowing much (if anything) about him personally, and found he held a bunch of “difficult” attitudes, but then again, he was a product of his times, having been born in 1910 (he died in 1971 at the age of 61). There’s no denying that Campbell shaped much of 20th century science fiction, having discovered talents such as Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, so it’s certainly understandable that, based on his career, he is worthy of having a science fiction award named after him. Does he have to be a perfect person by 21st century progressive, politically correct standards to still be considered significant?
I know that Captain Marvel (2019) is supposed to be THE next Marvel film to watch for a lot of reasons, but there’s no escaping the sequel to last year’s Avengers: Infinity War which I had meant to review, but apparently neglected. Avengers: Endgame is due to be out in late April and is expected to answer a lot of questions, not the least of which is who stays dead and who comes back to life.
However, there’s been a lot of concern about how specifically, King T’Challa, the Black Panther, and a large number of notable heroes of color and female heroes were exterminated, suspiciously leaving only the core, white male Avengers alive.
African-American screenwriter and author Steven Barnes has discussed at length, the history of black film characters dying for the sake of making white characters more heroic, and the impact of this, not only on his own childhood, but on his teenage son Jason.
Author G. Scott Huggins also weighed in on this last January, specifically about how, while we expect T’Challa, the Wakandans, and other African-American heroes to be revived, the fact that they died in the first place diminishes them as heroes. He said:
First off, I’ll state for the record, that because I’m even mentioning Jon Del Arroz‘s (yes, he deliberately makes himself a lightning rod for controversy) name and daring to write something with a social and political perspective not shared (necessarily) by Democrats, leftists, and progressives (those words are not synonyms), that at least one person will be vocally upset with me here on my blog.
I suspect that a lot of other people who regularly read my fiction will simply not respond because A: they like me and what I write, and B: they think that I’m a nice enough guy not to be flamed for expressing unpopular opinions.
Anyway, I did read Del Arroz’s article which starts out:
I’ll have to keep this relatively short since I promised my wife I’d help her in the yard this afternoon.
I tend to “catch up” on movies after they’ve left the theater by renting the DVDs from the public library. Even if the film is a stinker, I’m not out a dime, though I’ll never get those two hours back.
Last night, I watched the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok and completely enjoyed it. I’ll write a more comprehensive review later. Relative to this blog, I’ve also watched and should review Wonder Woman (another winner), Spider-Man: Homecoming (ditto), and Lucy (uh…).